Thursday, July 17, 2008


Named after one of the country's brilliant 19th-century painters, Felix Resurrection Hidalgo, the entire stretch of this street is bounded by San Sebastian Church on the east and Quiapo Church on the west. Notably, Hidalgo Street was one of Manila's most beautiful and fashionable streets -- boasting grand houses of some of Manila's finest families.

More than a year has passed since I first walked along Hidalgo Street and
blogged about it. I went back there the other day, only to be dismayed to find it just as I had the first time -- jeepneys making a terminal out of the western end of the street, while a number of what used to be impressive ancestral homes remain neglected if not abandoned altogether. And from what I was told, the vagrants that gather at night makes the street even less desirable for anyone to venture into.

However, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer article, some of the residents and leaders of various organizations located on the street and in the nearby area -- such as the NCS, Manuel L. Quezon University, St. Rita’s College, San Sebastian College, the Shrine of the Holy Face of Jesus and Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of St. John of God -- are now involved in some sort of concerted effort to restore certain aspects of the old Hidalgo Street, especially those that are historically and architecturally significant.

Msgr. Gerry Santos, director of the Nazarene Catholic School, claims that such restoration program is part of the school’s social commitment. “It is important to become socially aware and be concerned about our environment,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer during a recent meeting with different sectors involved in the project.

He added, “It’s a historical street, and if only for that, it merits the attention of educators as well as other stakeholders. So I decided to gather not only the residents but also the parents of children enrolled in our school, teachers and the Muslim community in Quiapo to ask what they could contribute to the project. The program has become multisectoral in terms of focus.”

The article also mentioned Dr. Fernando Nakpil Bautista, editor of the book "Quiapo: The Heart of Manila," who said that R. Hidalgo Street -- originally named Calzada de San Sebastian during the Spanish era -- is now a far cry from what it was decades ago. He recalled this street was once a "favored location for upper to middle class families because of its proximity to Malacañang, schools and churches, and recreational facilities on Rizal Avenue."

The article goes on to mention that:

“Many prominent families lived on the street in fabulous mansions, a few which are still around. The Aranetas, Zaragosas, Ocampos, Genatos, Paternos built their homes there because the street has a strategic location,” Zialcita said. “In fact, in 1817, the street was called the most beautiful street in Manila because of its grand homes,” he said, adding that the street was “okay” until 1960 when it started to decline.

Zialcita, who usually takes tourists around for a glimpse of Old Manila, also revealed that European architects were amazed at the vista. “But because it is congested with vehicular and human traffic now, one cannot appreciate its former beauty,” he lamented.

However, Zialcita stressed that the problem of R. Hidalgo has also been a problem of the City of Manila, and perhaps all cities in the country. “There was no plan for the buildings which were gradually neglected by the owners. Eventually, the owners left the place and fled to the suburbs,” he said.

But despite these unhappy changes taking place, Zialcita said it was nice to know that there are people who still feel affection and a pride of place for the street, and hope that restoring it to its old glory would not just be a pipe dream.

Below is a slide show of photographs I had taken during my walk on this street the other day.

Meanwhile, please support the group composed of residents and friends of Manila. Your signature to the online petition addressed to Mayor Alfredo Lim would be of tremendous help to their efforts to preserve and protect Quiapo.

One of the issues they are raising is the potential adverse effects of the high-rise structure, currently being built on Hidalgo Street at the corner of Carcer Street (see video below).

* * * *

Related links:

Restoring The Most Beautiful Street in Manila - by Tina Santos - PDI

Hidalgo East of Quezon Boulevard

Petition To Mayor Lim

* * *

Please note:
I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Thank you!


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posted by Señor Enrique at 9:35 AM


Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric,

Hope you are taking good care of yourself. Thanks for featuring F.R. Hidalgo & Bilibid Viejo, another old streets in Quiapo. The famous painter Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo is not from Quiapo, he was born in Binondo on February 21, 1855. Unfortunately no street in Binondo or San Nicolas named after him.

Early F.R. Hidalgo street were the racetracks up to Plaza del Carmen. Weekly, Manilenos watched horse races from two-storey stands, tables with cold cats, salads, cake, tea or champagne were served during intermission. Grand Iberian houses stands along Manuel L. Quezon University. I remember a small street close to Times theater, calle BARBOSA a favorite of mine because it was named after Duarte Barbosa, Ferdinand Magellan’s brother in law who manned one of the ships of the famous expedition.

Bilibid Viejo was once a jail site, latter better-known for its Recollet church of San Sebastian, the Beaterio de Santa Rita was slum chapel of San Roque. Despite of its estero and slum, Bilibid Viejo before WW II, was the “calle las profesoras de piano” (street of piano teachers). The jail that gave Bilibid Viejo its name crossed to the other side of calle Yriz (part of Azcarraga) there became the national penitentiary, before moving to Muntinglupa. The end part of the old penitentiary is still the city jail, where cells are long distance of Avenida Rizal, Central Market & Quezon Boulevard. The great walls of Bilibid used to a landmark of the area.

Eric, you have been fascinated by the splendor of Quiapo! I know you already featured my home town Binondo, I feel bad that I failed to comment, specially its historical places besides Binondo church & BPI… the house of Higinio Francisco at # 825 Calle Magdalena, birthplace of Antonio Luna at # 457 Calle Urbiztondo , the house where Rizal’s father died at # 619 Calle Estraude, the house of Rizal’s sister # 474 Calle San Fernando, another Rizal’s sister’s house # 525 Calle Magdalena, the site of Hotel Oriente at Plaza Calderon where Rizal stayed before living for Europe, the main reason he described the setting of Noli Me Tangere (The House of Maria Clara) was just across the hotel, in front of the room where he stayed that he can’t miss every time he look from his window .

I’ll be very happy if you can feature “San Nicolas”, the tough place where I spent my youth, which is historical as well as its sister district Binondo. Named after San Nicolas de Tolentino, legend said a Chinese merchant’s banca capsized in then crocodile-infested Muelle de la Industria. The pigtailed Sangley (Chinese)being attacked by a crocodile, asked the aid of the patron saint of merchants…”SAN NICOLASI, SAN NICOLASI !!!” the crocodile turned to stone!!!

San Nicolas’ fiesta is on the month of October, but there’s also a fiesta celebrated on the month of May, “El Longos”, a crucified image of Christ are passed on to the honorable members of the “Caballeros de Longos” every year. The lucky member voted to be the “Hermano Mayor” have the privilege to keep the “Christ Image” for a week, before the grand procession. The old Crucified Image of Christ was accidentally scooped from a well in Calle Longos by a deaf and mute Chinese boy fetching for water. Seeing the image the boy was scared, rushed to his parents and told them what happened… a miracle! In the old days members of the “Caballeros de Longos” were mostly pigtailed Chinese.

The main street, Calle Madrid stand two old Spanish school houses; “Instituto deMujeres” and “Instituto de Manila” Calle Lara, where Aquinaldo’s Headquarters was located. # 116 Calle Lavezares, printing site of “Ang Kalayaan” Katipunan’s newspaper also house of Pio Valenzuela.

It’ll be great to go with you and see the San Nicolas through my eyes, maybe some day …Eric. Many thanks for keeping up with my long comment.
Ka Tony

July 17, 2008 5:42 PM  

Blogger Tina said...

i enjoyed this thanks.

July 17, 2008 9:13 PM  

Blogger Ebb Tide said...

A well written and interesting post about Hiladgo St. Good to know that this street is named after a famous Filipino artist. I may not reach his height as an artist but would like to see this street restored beautifully.

July 17, 2008 11:55 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Interestingly, Ka Tony, I was just talking to some Quiapo locals the other day, trying to figure out how on earth the street we were on was named Bilibid Viejo. No one knew.

Like them, I had no idea that the area was a major jail site that extended to Azcarraga (now C.M. Recto Avenue).

I know of the Manila City Jail but I'd never connect it as the end part of Bilibid Viejobecause it's much farther away -- closer to Central Market, in fact. Be that as it may, Tandang Sora was incarcerated in the city jail, right? Not Bilibid Viejo?

As for Binondo, thanks for pointing out the streets and famous people associated with them. However, I'm afraid many of the street names you mentioned might have been changed to "has-been" politicians or egocentric magnates.

Actually, from what I heard, Metrobank is aggressively trying to get the name of Oriente Street changed to some other name. I guess, to that of the founder of Metrobank.

As for San Nicolas, haven't really explored that area but i'm now inspired to do so. I will ask my friend Ivan Mandy for more info on it. But I may have to ask for your help for some historical data or personal connections of yours to the area so I can include in the photo essay. Please email to me and will share it with Ivan so he can help me plan the route to photograph.

Perhaps, when you come home for a vacation I can tag along and document your visit to these areas ... hehehe.

Enjoy your day and thank you very much, Ka Tony!

July 18, 2008 8:26 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm glad you did, Tina, but sorry I couldn't find the house you once lived in on this street.

July 18, 2008 8:28 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Ebb Tide. Hidalgo's works are indeed impressive. Nonetheless, I see no reason why you cannot reach the same height.

July 18, 2008 8:29 AM  

Blogger FilMasons NSW said...

Another great historical post re Old Manila. Surely Ka Tony also immensely contributed to our knowledge of this part and other part of Old Manila.

I envy; mostly European cities, that retained their old and historical charm. I'd wish for our Manila (and other older cities) to recapture these old and glorious past.

Looking forward to similar post.


July 18, 2008 10:45 AM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hello again Eric,

Many thanks to you and Mario of FilMasons NSW for the reply and kind words. I myself didn’t know the story behind Bilibid Viejo, until a classmate whose last name Pomanes at MIT, Doroteo Jose, had a sister I wanted to date, but learned they live in Bilibid (inside Manila City Jail, because their father works there), I backed out!...siga pala! Then I asked my Dad (my history book reference) about Bilibid Viejo, Bilibid – Manila City Jail & New Bilibid Prison. I was scolded for not knowing my Spanish! He explained that extension of Bilibid Viejo to Bilibid (Manila City Jail), across Azcarraga was built in 1847 & was called “Carcel Y Presidio Correccional” (Correctional Jail & Military Prison), was divided into two parts. The Bilibid Viejo side was the “carcel” (for inmates) while the Sta. Cruz side and was bigger, was the “presidio“ (for prisoners). “Viejo” in Spanish is “old” so Bilibid Viejo, was the old Bilibid that was closed and moved to Muntinglupa, which they call now “New Bilibid Prison” The remaining half across Azcarraga, still is a jail.

Many of our heroes and “second wave Filipino revolutionaries” which the Gringos called “Tulisanes” & “Bandoleros” were jailed, hanged & died of starvation in Bilibid (Manila City Jail). Melchora Aquino (Tandang Sora, yeah you’re right Eric!), Tomines, Artemio “Vivora” Ricarte & Montalan were incarcerated here before their deportation in Agana, Guam. Felizardo & General Macario Sakay (born in calle Tabora, San Nicolas, actor in Moro-Moro stage before joining the Katipunan) was hanged in Bilibid.

During the early 60s, hearing Mr. Tony Laya’s proposed plan to imelda marcos, to rebuild Intramuros, I started campaigning for the restoration of Binondo & San Nicolas. Not only because of their historical sites, churches, chapels and their ancestral houses as well. I did a one-man exhibit featuring historical houses of both district, in pen & brown ink on sheep’s skin. Exhibited at Hidalgo Gallery in Makati, with news articles explaining the importance of history & our culture. Bank of the Philippine Island was our client at the ad agency I was working for, asked me to do a 5 minute TV commercial showing a Filipina walking through BPI’s history; Pesos Fuertes, Parian gate, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, etc… in association with our country’s progress. I even used the talent of Jose Marie Chan for the music. The TV commercial won a lot of awards at the advertising congress.

Unfortunately, in spite of these personal campaign in the name of history & culture, nothing happened! I hope and we should really work hard to appeal for the restoration of Quiapo, the districts of Old Manila and to resurrect the esteros!!!

Mga politico!!!…ano sa “palagay” ninyo?

Eric, I might go home this February, I can go with you in San Nicolas. Sana nandoon pa ang mga “tambay” na “chokaran” ko. Also send me your email through multiply using “personal message” so I can help you with anything you might need. Maraming salamat na muli Eric at Mario,
Ka Tony

July 18, 2008 3:58 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

wow! So much to learn from one sigle stretch of street in Manila! Thank you Eric and Ka Tony! Who ever said that there is no education after college?

I often imagine how it is to be caught in a time warp. I find it both fascinating and eerie to be in a place such as say R. Hidalgo and be able to observe its history in a split second! With ka Tony's very concise description of its historical events---hay naku! ang kulay!

July 18, 2008 9:36 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Mario!

I very much agree with you -- Ka Tony's insight gives us an added dimension, so to speak. I really had no idea about the history of Bilibid Viejo and those notable people who used to live or frequented Binondo during the olden times.

July 19, 2008 4:44 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I think as more fellow bloggers write about Manila, many others -- especially young people -- will be inspired to learn more about this incredible city of ours, Ka Tony.

That was indeed a remarkable effort on your part to campaign for the restoration of Binondo and San Nicolas. However, with the Heritage Conservation Society working along with Mayor Lim's Heritage and Historical Commission, we may see some of your old visions materialize, though not as quickly as we'd all want it to be.

Will contact you regarding the San Nicolas feature.

Salamat po, Ka Tony!

July 19, 2008 4:49 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Education, as my father had told me, Bernadette, is a lifelong process. And there remains plenty to be learned, especially about Manila :)

Wouldn't it be wonderful to get a glimpse of Hidalgo Street on its heyday? Whoa! Come to think of it, am currently reading "The Time Traveler's Wife."

I hope Ka Tony doesn't get tired of sharing his insight with us :)

July 19, 2008 4:52 PM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric,

I would like to thank Mario, Bernadette, most specially you Eric, all for your kind words. I'm so thankful for "Senor Enrique's Blog" for bringing back the light and spread the glow, the candle that died in my brain. All these didn't came from me, these facts are there waiting to be exposed and if not for Eric these are not possible.

I'll never get tired of sharing stories specially to people like yourselves, we are the "rare species " who'll never stop digging to learn the truth.

Eric, I'm blaming you for this "Senor Enrique Mania" he, he, he

For fellow commentators who are interested about the "other version of Philippine History", with Eric's permission check my BanlawKasaysayan...

Maraming salamat na muli Eric and I'm looking forward to see you. Take good care.

July 20, 2008 4:15 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Should you ever come back home to teach your version of Philippine history, Ka Tony, I'd most probably be on the front of the line to sign up ... hehehe.

I actually have so many questions to ask I do not know where to begin. Perhaps, I should just write them all down and wait until you come home for vacation. I'll make sure I bring along a tape recorder.

I had included your site on my list since I don't have a blogroll on the design of my template.

For all other fellow bloggers interested in our history, please share with us your URL and visit Ka Tony's site as well.

Thank you, Ka Tony and everybody!

July 20, 2008 6:59 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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